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We got this book called "What Your Contractor Can't Tell You" and have found it really helped boost our confidence. It's written by a general contractor and basically advises you on how to knowledgeably protect your interests without being a total pain in the ass. It might not be the perfect book, but we have found it a fabulous resource when interviewing architects and builders. It is empowering but realistic. Can't recommend it enough.
Edit: note it was recommended to me by a builder in the Houzz forums.
When we did residential construction of our house the options seemed to be a design-build firm with a designer or architect in house or going to an independent architect. There didn't seem to be very many independent "designers" around. We used an independent architect after meeting with four of them. Doing design-build would probably be a lot less work for your parents.
If this is a fairly significant project and expense for your parents I foundthis book helpful in knowing how to work with the professionals and what questions to ask them.
I found this book really helpful.
Also, you may want to check if any of the contractors in your area offer "pre-construction planning". This basically is a package that you pay for that they will make with you that specifies all of the details of the house, down to # of outlets, etc. This way, when you bid the contract out, you can get a very specific apples-to-apples number.
Agree with all.
I really wish I had read What Your Contractor Can't Tell You before I started. https://www.amazon.com/What-Your-Contractor-Cant-Tell/dp/0979983800
It's basically a toolkit for project planning, that weird headspace between designing and construction, with FAQs, checklists, and misc advice.
I found this book after bad experiences. Eye opening. Check lists, stuff to look out for, etc.
I buy a copy for friends and family considering remodeling, new construction.
What Your Contractor Can't Tell You
In my limited experience, the better people are more matter of fact, willing to teach and not pushy. The detail on the quotes I've gotten weren't reflective of the experience, workmanship or honesty of the person involved.
If someone wants to take advantage of your (my) lack of knowledge, they will. I ended up going with the old school guy who emailed me his quote over the guy with the long pdf and gantt chart.
This book may be useful, though maybe more geared towards large projects with more formal requirements: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0979983800/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0979983800 was a good read
I found this book extremely helpful to lay out the overall process, the different people who you will be involved with, and good tips on how to find and talk to them. I think it will answer quite a few of your questions, or at least put you on the right track: https://www.amazon.ca/What-Your-Contractor-Cant-Tell/dp/0979983800/ref=sr_1_1?crid=EL163V5QW26P&keywords=what+your+contractor+can%27t+tell+you&qid=1641785428&sprefix=what+your+contract%2Caps%2C72&sr=8-1
this one is great